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Posts Tagged ‘cabaret’

  1. At Dave’s Bar

    November 28, 2011 by Fan

    There were dozens of bars and restaurants on the Wychwood strip of St. Clair West Avenue, along with antique shops, psychic salons, and a big Goodwill store. Dave’s bar was not one of the most noticeable either in size or swankiness. It took me a while to find its humble white sign among all those posh but empty bistros.

    Its interior was equally unpretentious but full of people and noise. All the seats were taken. I had to stand at a table, opposite a smartly dressed diner with a tilby. He was feverishly taking notes while having his salad. When I bowed down to apologize for my unseemingly presence, I recognized him immediately. He was Martin R. of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.  

    The 40ish Martin was one of the younger customers tonight. The average age of the forty or so customers might be well above 55, not unlike what you can observe in a TSO concert. Most of them were white, although noticeably there were a few “visible minorities’ among younger attendees. The majority were hetero couples. A pair were probably father and son (judging from their facial resemblance). A gay male couple entered the pub later.

     People waited quietly under candle light and six different Bob Marley portraits for their Mozart or Beethoven to begin. The barmaid brought burgers, pitas, curry and sushi to their tables from “Rolling Stone Avenue” (the kitchen).

    Edwin Huizinga, the key figure of Toronto’s Classical Revolution, finally appeared. Over 6’7 and 300 lbs, with his wild beard and shoulder-length blonde hair, he could have been mistaken as a WWF wrestler until he picked up his little violin. He was accompanied by a string of young musicians of all ethnical backgrounds.

    A light-hearted Haydn quartet began the classical cabaret. Curiously, it failed to impress in this light-hearted environment. But it did loosen up the air a bit, especially when the musicians said loudly to each other “let’s go fast” with amusement. The second piece by J. C. Bach was tragic – and somehow appetite-inducing. When I finished my Budweiser and cheesecake, the pub was full of earthy glory of Brahms’ String Sextet in B flat. Brahms, long considered a very academic composer, actually started his career playing piano for sailors and prostitutes in Hamburg. The listeners’ heart-felt cheers were accompanied by cheers of a different kind from two young men paying no attention to the music around them: Maple Leaf’s Joe Colborne just scored a goal on TV.


  2. Daniel Taylor Sings Cabaret

    October 12, 2011 by Fan

    This not the cabaret! Taylor and Huizinga's New York performance

    The Young Center was holding the Global Cabaret Festival. An array of folk and pop singers would sing in front of diners and drinkers. The programs included Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Paul Simon’s Graceland, etc. Prior to my visit, I was surprised to see the countertenor Daniel Taylor’s name on performers’ list. Previously I had seen him performing with Tafelmusik, TSO or his own Montreal-based group, Theatre of Early Music. Bach, Handel and Purcell were his repertoire. What would he be singing here?

    The lobby of the Young Center was bustling with people and noise. There were people of all ages, all ethnical backgrounds, and all combinations. There was probably more diversity here than anywhere else in the District: a Caucasian old lady was taking care of an east-Asian small boy (they seemed to be grandmother and grandson). A 50ish and flamboyant gay couple were calling each other “boys”. A young woman with spectacles and backpack was sitting alone in the corner: I immediately recognized her as one of the lone cinephiles who frequented the former Cinematheque Ontario in the AGO basement. I almost forgot all those familiar but unknown faces since Cinematheque moved into the big and vulgar TIFF Lightbox.

    Mr. Taylor was sitting at a coffee table. When he seemed to have finished his conversation with a 30ish lady, I approached him with this question: “What are you doing here?” “Well, I will sing a Shakespeare album – folk songs in Shakespeare’s times”. He smiled. Then he stood up and walked around the lobby with a cookie in his hand, checking out other singers’ program. He seemed eager not to be just a performer but also a diner and listener. I could feel his satisfaction in not being high up alone on the stage.

    The performance began. Curiously, nobody was really drinking and eating under the candle light. Almost everyone sat straight as if they were attending a classical concert. The performers were more at ease. During the one-hour performance, Mr. Taylor even checked out his cell phone and played with his blond hair a few times on stage.

    Another curious fact was that the folk songs didn’t work as well as Handel, a fact Mr. Taylor admitted on stage – he in turn adjusted the program. An obvious explanation is that Handel’s music always has a dramatic flare for public consumption. German-born, he is English through and through. The Renaissance English folk songs, by contrast, are reserved and introspective. The duality of Englishness was played out.

    My companion happened to be English. When I was struggling at the high table, she invited me down to sit with her. She came from England some 40 years ago but kept her strong British accent. After Handel, she was going to the Beatles album concert.